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IT TAKES 3 (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Tesla's all-electric Model 3 executive saloon took the American brand into volume territory for the first time. Now it's been significantly improved. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 52
The Model 3 is the car that's really put Tesla on the map. It's all-electric of course - and much more accessible than the company's previous models, with prices starting from just over £45,000. Your next executive saloon? Middle managers who are early adopters of new technology should form an orderly queue.
Backgroundword count: 131
At its launch back in 2017, the Model 3 was the most significant car Tesla had introduced in its history, but even this ambitious US brand couldn't have predicted just how successful it would be. In the first six years of production, over 2 million were sold and the car was frequently the European continent's best seller. It was an accessible, high-performance and technologically advanced contender that appealed to a broad audience and it helped shift perceptions about electric vehicles from being seen as niche products to becoming more mainstream. By Autumn 2023 though, the EV competition was catching up, hence the need for the heavily revised version of the Model 3 we look at here. There's a sharper look, greater refinement, improved media connectivity and a smarter cabin. Sounds promising.
Driving Experienceword count: 370
As before, there's a choice of two powertrains, an entry-level Rear-Wheel Drive set-up (which goes 318 miles between charges) and a Long Range AWD model (which extends that to 390 miles). Both offer eager performance, with the rear-driven model making 62mph in 6.1s, a figure the AWD version improves to just 4.4s. Lots of work has been done on refinement (not a strongpoint of the original model), Tesla introducing 360-degree acoustic glass and adding improved suspension bushings, seals and sound-deadening materials. Otherwise, the drive experience here is much as before. Which means superbly accurate steering, lacking only the final really feelsome element that's integral to a good European rack. And very well modulated set of brakes. There's also firm-ish damping that contributes to excellent body control through the turns, but doesn't crash too much through pot holes or over speed humps. You could actually enjoy yourself driving this car, which is quite a rare experience in an EV. The smooth linearity of the throttle helps -though it's still prone to lurch the car forward like a startled rabbit if used without due care. As before, there's no driving mode system of the kind a combustion-engined competitor in this segment would offer - just three steering settings ('Comfort', 'Standard' or 'Sport') and two acceleration modes ('Sport' and the rather cringily-named 'Chill'). You can activate a 'Slip Start' setting that eases the car away if you happen to be stuck on snow, mud or sand. And as usual with a Tesla, you can select a 'Creep' function if you want the kind of 'creep forward' feel that you'd get from a conventional mechanical gearbox. As for regenerative braking, well you can't control it with steering wheel paddles in the way you can with rival EVs; there are simply two screen-selectable options - 'Low' (which minimises retardation when you lift off the throttle) and 'Standard' (which increases it). Select the latter setting and you'll find you'll only really ever need the brake pedal for hard stops or when you're bring the car to a complete halt. A Model 3 also dispenses with other driving control features you might be familiar with - a handbrake, an ignition key and a start button for instance.
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Category: Hybrid, Plug-in, Electric & Hydrogen
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